Rabu, 15 September 2021

$12m seized from ex-officials as cash crunch hits Afghanistan -

A burqa-clad woman checks footwear displayed on a stall at a market area in Kabul

Afghanistan's central bank said Wednesday that the Taliban had seized more than $12 million in cash and gold from the homes of former government officials, as a financial crunch threatens the Islamists' rule one month after they took back power.

Most government employees have yet to return to work -- and in many cases salaries had already not been paid for months -- leaving millions scrambling to make ends meet.

And while remittances have resumed from abroad, customers awaiting funds at international chains such as Western Union and MoneyGram complained Wednesday that branches they visited had run out of cash.

"All Afghans in the government and non-governmental organisations are asked to use Afghani in their contracts and economic transactions," the central bank said Wednesday.

"The money recovered came from high-ranking officials... and a number of national security agencies who kept cash and gold in their homes," the bank said.

- Thanking donors -

"The branches of the banks are closed in the provinces," he told AFP Wednesday, "and in Kabul, thousands of people queue to get their money out."

The Taliban on Tuesday thanked the world after a donor conference in Geneva pledged $1.2 billion in aid for Afghanistan, but the country's needs are immediate.

The hardline Islamists have promised a milder form of rule compared to their first stint in power, from 1996 to 2001, but have moved swiftly to crush dissent -- including firing in the air to disperse recent protests by women calling for the right to work.

"It is very important to engage with the Taliban at the present moment," he said.

Meanwhile, Iran became the latest country to resume commercial flights to Afghanistan, days after Pakistan relaunched a service between Islamabad and Kabul.

At least 36 citizens and 24 permanent residents have left the country with US government assistance since the  military withdrawal at the end of August, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

- Job satisfaction -

Laalagha, a street vendor, said he was no longer being shaken down by corrupt police officers -- although he had switched to selling fruit as no one could afford to buy his previous ware of flowers.

"Now no one is disturbing or creating problems."

"The Taliban have told us to stay home," said one woman who worked in the telecoms ministry of the old government.

The Taliban named an interim government last week and acting ministers have been holding press conferences spelling out policies that range from how women should dress at university to what sports can be played.



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2021-09-15 22:04:20Z

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